Help Me Understand A Wine Critic: Jeb Dunnuck

The goal of this thread is to better understand a critic’s palate and how to interpret their wine tasting notes. These are related, but not the same, questions.

Instagram @jebdunnuck
[u]Abbreviated bio from[/u]
An aerospace engineer by training, Jeb Dunnuck grew up on a farm in rural Indiana where 2% milk was the beverage of choice and wine was hard to come by. It wasn’t until 1996, when living abroad and traveling through Europe, that he became interested in fine wine.

Jeb launched the “The Rhône Report” publication and website in 2008 and began releasing a quarterly newsletter reviewing Rhône variety wines from around the world. In 2013, after being approached by Robert Parker to join The Wine Advocate team, Jeb gave up his engineering career and wrote full-time for the Wine Advocate. Described as a younger version of himself by Robert M. Parker Jr., Dunnuck was the leading reviewer for California, Washington and Southern France from 2013 to 2017, publishing more reviews than any other professional reviewer. In 2017, Jeb decided to leave the Wine Advocate and go back to his roots as an independent wine critic, launching his own publication

Through the platform, Dunnuck offers comprehensive, consumer-focused coverage of the most interesting wines from California, Washington, Southern France and Bordeaux , while seeking out discoveries from around the world.

Wish I liked him better as a critic as he appears to have a genuine love for Rhone and Rhone-style as do I. But I find his descriptions tend to be overly enthusiastic as are his scores. While I may generally enjoy a great deal a wine that he heaps superlatives on, oftentimes I find them more good/very good but not quite as dramatically good as he makes them sound. I trust him to identify wines I’d like but I mentally subtract something from the notes and 4-5 points off the scores (usually).

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I really like the regions he covers, how many wines he reviews, and how timely his reports seem to be, however, his scores don’t really seem to correlate with mine beyond me usually liking wines that he gives a high score.

As far as Rhône coverage, he’s the best! No one can match him. It’s to bad he left the WA. It was a good fit. You can find his older reviews there. It seems they have a grudge against him as they don’t mention him as being a critic for WA. I don’t know what happened. It was during the time they were having a meltdown of there website. My only complaint is he doesn’t give enough background information about the winery, production etc.

Not even JLL?

Different tastes, site, and coverage… for inside info and details on producers in the Rhone, John is incredible. I think his northern Rhone book is one of the best wine books ever written.


I agree with this. He has a genuine love of the Rhone, which I share. And, though I can only judge him from his posts, he seems like a genuinely nice guy. But, while he didn’t inherit Parker’s thin skin and prickliness, he did inherit his palate, so I have not found him that useful as a critic, even if I subtract some points. But, truth be told, I don’t read critics anymore, so my evaluation may not mean much. I admired his coverage of the Southern Rhone before he went to the Wine Advocate, which I stopped reading before he got there. But I always agreed with Parker that they shared a palate.

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I subscribe to him too. But his palate is more British. I do like all the information he has on his website. [cheers.gif]

I.e. better! [tease.gif]

(in my books, that is)

Out of curiosity, what is a ‘British’ palate?


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New topic? Help me understand palates: British


Dunnuck is the only critic I subscribe to. That is primarily because when I setup my cellar in CT I noticed him listed as the pro reviewer over and over. Have kept a subscription ever since. Although, sometimes I get release offers before the ratings are published so that timing can stink.

I too subscribed because of his connection with CT and its a bonus I like his content and timeliness of most of his barrel reviews for Napa Cabs. I also subscribe to Vinous for the same CT connection. I find that I use both sites regularly and will pay close attention to a wine when JD and V score within a point or 2 of each other and have similar descriptions.

I find his scores to be way to high. So many 95+.

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Seems to be the norm as I have stated multiple times big scores get the free samples and keep the machine going.

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I think that Jeb is an excellent professional reviewer, especially with respect to Washington State and the Rhone. I also love the fact that my subscription to his publication allows for his tasting notes to be integrated into CellarTracker.

Colin [cheers.gif]

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Listened to Jeb on the X Chateau podcast on my flight last night and enjoyed it … enough to subscribe for a year and see how I like it. I liked that he made no apologies for his opinions and defended them vigorously. It was interesting to hear him talk about score inflation, too, and I may not be fully convinced yet, but his point was well taken that it benefits consumers more if critics use the entire scale instead of giving everything an 87-93. I actually drink mainly BDX, Cali and Rhone (though not so much Cali Rhone varietals), so I’m surprised I haven’t given his subscription a whirl yet.

He also briefly discussed the brouhaha of leaving WA should that bit of drama interest you. You have to read between the lines just a bit, but it’s pretty clear as to his interpretation of how things unfolded.

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